This Thai chicken salad with peanut dressing is so fresh, bright, and easy to make! It's a great way to use leftover or rotisserie chicken, and it's on your table in just 20 minutes.
Love cabbage-based salads? Try my Simple Creamy Coleslaw Recipe.
Easy Thai salad
If you love Thai food as much as I do, you'll devour this Thai-inspired chicken salad. The peanut, lime, and ginger dressing is made from scratch, and it's incredible. Pair it with crunchy cabbage, veggies, and fresh herbs, and you have one flavor-packed salad! I like to eat this one-year round since it has ingredients available all the time.
Maybe the best part is how even picky eaters will enjoy it. This super simple salad will be a hit with your entire family. I like to consider it a salad for people who don't really like salad. It's that good. It's also packed with so much good stuff that it's filling enough to eat as a meal on its own.
Everything you'll need
For the salad
- Coleslaw - any mixture of shredded cabbage and carrots is good! You can also chop your own green cabbage and use matchstick carrots.
- Chicken - use shredded cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken
- Scallions - they've got a fairly mild taste, but use red onion if you prefer
- Red bell pepper - to add crunch and color
- Cilantro and basil - I strongly recommend adding both these fresh herbs. They complement the homemade peanut dressing so well. If you can't eat cilantro, sub for Italian parsley. Mint works too!
- Peanuts - chopped peanuts top it all off
For the dressing
- Peanut butter - I used a smooth creamy variety. I don't recommend natural peanut butter for this recipe.
- Soy sauce, lime juice, honey - this trio makes up the wonderful savory-tangy-sweet flavor combination that is amazing with peanut butter!
- Toasted sesame oil - it has a distinct flavor and is used in many Asian recipes. Don't confuse it with the regular kind.
- Garlic powder - for another savory layer. Use fresh minced garlic instead if you like.
- Fresh ginger - it adds a punch of bold flavor
- Water - depending on the brand of peanut butter and how thick you like the dressing, you may have to add more than suggested to thin out the dressing
Pro tips and troubleshooting
- We're using the toasted variety of sesame oil that's darker in color and can be found in the Asian foods aisle along with soy sauce. Regular sesame oil has a lighter color and is often found with other cooking oils like olive oil, so don't get that one.
- I use one of my favorite kitchen tools to grate the ginger, my Microplane zester/grater. It's so much easier to grate when it's frozen! Just store ginger in a ZipLoc freezer bag so you always have some handy.
- If you store your peanut butter in the fridge, make sure to let it warm up on the counter for a little before making the dressing so it's not cold and hard and mixes properly. You can also add more water to thin it out to desired consistency.
How to make it
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Add all the dressing ingredients to a bowl, and whisk until combined. Make sure to test it and adjust as necessary (more lime juice, honey, water, etc.) Prep all the salad ingredients, and place them in a large bowl.
Top the salad with the homemade peanut dressing, season with salt & pepper, and serve immediately!
Substitutions and variations
- If you don't want to buy pre-bagged coleslaw mix, you can cut up/shred your own cabbage and carrots.
- Cucumber would be a great addition to this salad! I'd cut it up in fairly small cubes. I've also seen people add papaya.
- Want to make this a spicy Thai chicken salad? Try adding some crushed red pepper flakes, cut-up fresh Thai chilis, or some sriracha sauce to the dressing. A little heat would be fantastic here.
What to serve with this salad
- This is quite a large salad. It serves four as an main dish on its own no problem, but you could easily feed up to six people depending on how much they eat or if you serve it with something else.
- If you want a riff on soup and salad, pair it with this light 15 Minute Thai Green Curry Soup!
Leftovers and storage
- This salad does work for leftovers for a day or so just fine, but it may get a bit less crisp. Just store in an airtight container and refrigerate.
- Keep in mind leftovers aren't quite as good as when freshly made, so you could certainly halve all the ingredients if you don't want anything left over.
- Or you could store the dressing in a jar in the fridge for up to a week and use when you're ready!
Questions? Leave me a comment below! As always, tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram so I can see your creations!
Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing
- 1 pound coleslaw mix
- 3 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 1/4 cup scallions chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
- Small handful fresh cilantro chopped (optional but recommended)
- Small handful fresh basil sliced thin or torn (optional)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 5 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon pure sesame oil see note
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
- 3 tablespoons water or more as needed
- Add the dressing ingredients to a medium-sized bowl and whisk together until smooth. Taste and adjust (e.g. add more lime juice or honey). If your dressing comes out really thick (peanut butter brands can vary), add even more water than suggested.
- Prep all the salad ingredients and them add to a large bowl. Toss with the dressing and serve immediately. Season with salt & pepper as needed.
- I don't recommend using natural peanut butter for this recipe as the flavors and texture can be a bit off. I would use it sparingly and then taste and adjust the dressing as needed.
- I use the sesame oil found in the Asian section of the grocery store. It's got quite a strong/nutty flavor. It's darker in color and sometimes you'll find it labeled as toasted sesame oil. I just buy whichever brand is in stock.
- You don't need to add the cilantro or basil, but they definitely add extra flavor and freshness.
- Helpful hint: It's much easier to grate ginger when it's frozen. I always keep some fresh ginger in my freezer for when I need it. It also helps reduce waste (I always seem to waste fresh ginger when I don't use it in time!).
- Serves 4-6. You may want to halve it if you don't want leftovers.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.
This recipe was originally published on June 16, 2017. It's been updated with new photos and better instructions but is the same great recipe!